Over the course of June 2016, Values & Capitalism welcomed 75 Christian college students from 46 different schools to participate in the V&C Summer Honors Program—an intensive, one-week seminar, designed to educate students on various issues of public policy and economics.
In the mornings, students spent three hours in classes with instructors, and in the afternoons and nights, they heard from guest speakers or participated in other activities, including field trips and film screenings. The courses offered this year included: “International Economic Development and Microfinance,” with Stephen Smith (Hope College) and Chris Horst (HOPE International); “Poverty and Welfare Policy,” with Larry Mead (New York University); “The Christian Faith and Politics,” with Amy Black (Wheaton College); and “The Good and the Goods: Do Markets Deliver?,” with Art Carden (Samford University).
With around 20 students in each class, these courses were largely discussion-based. As a result, students benefited not only from their professors, but also from the insights of their fellow students. “I learned how important it is to try to understand where other people are coming from when they talk about public policy. We all have different worldviews, and we should try to understand what others believe,” commented one student in Dr. Black’s class on Christianity and politics.
Over the course of the week, students also heard from AEI scholars, academics, authors, and practitioners, including: Karen Swallow Prior, Robert Doar, Martin Garcia, Toby Stock, Stephanie Summers, Endel Liias, Charlie Self, Kevin Corinth, Kate Harris, and Arthur Brooks. Among the topics discussed were: poverty, vocation and calling, homelessness, impact investment, religious freedom, the life of Hannah More, and many other important topics.
On the first day of each program, students also had the opportunity to hear from scholars representing several key areas of AEI’s scholarship. This included topics such as foreign policy, economics, and poverty, which were taught by AEI scholars and fellows Katie Zimmerman, Angela Rachidi, Alex Brill, Tom Donnelly, Michael Strain, and Brad Wassink. Wrapping up the first day of each program, Jay Richards of the Catholic University of America also lectured on the morality of the free enterprise system.
Apart from their core classes and guest lectures, students had the chance to view screenings of “High Noon,” as well as “Mama Rwanda,” directed by Laura Waters Hinson. After each film, the students discussed the themes introduced by the films. Each term of the Summer Honors Program also included a field trip. In Term I, the group visited the U.S. Capitol where they visited with former Congressman and Ambassador Tony Hall, Ted McCann (Office of Speaker Paul Ryan), and Jared Noetzel (ONE Campaign). In Term II, students visited the Department of State, where they heard from Raffi Gregorian from the Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism.
Apart from official programming, students noted that one of the best parts of the program was the opportunity to get to know each other and network with professionals. The program featured several professional development sessions for the students, including a resume workshop and career information sessions with members of the V&C Ideas Council – a community of mid-career professionals who described how they arrived at their current jobs gave students career advice.
As they return to their campuses, many of these students will have the opportunity to continue their involvement with AEI and Values & Capitalism by joining the AEI Executive Council at their school, becoming a V&C Young Scholar, and attending future conferences.
As one student shared looking back on their experience, the overall purpose of the program was “to help students gain a deeper and richer understanding of some of the most complex issues facing the future leaders of America.” The V&C Summer Honors Program seeks to equip students with the knowledge and resources they need to engage their families, friends, and campuses in thoughtful discussions about public policy, economics, society, and faith—and, in the future, to become principled leaders in whichever professional fields they enter.
Other students shared their reflections after their experience:
“The V&C Summer Honors Program was everything I could have expected it to be and more. It really helped me clarify some of my values, some of which I didn’t even realize how strongly I felt about. I learned a lot, and I feel like my passion for international development has been further confirmed.”
“I loved everything about this program and found it to be an invaluable experience for me professionally and personally. I really respect that AEI provided us with a plethora of different viewpoints on policies so that we could weigh each policy option ourselves before making a judgment. I also loved having an opportunity to meet other students and professionals alike who are pursuing careers similar to me and have similar passions in a respectful setting.”